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First flight of Levitation Delta with carbon fiber frame…did not go well

edited May 18 in Kites

I just finished my first flight with the Levi Delta after replacing the stock spars with skyshark P400 spars. Wind was a steady 10mph, nothing crazy. Everything seemed fine, flew for over an hour. I was actually filming a video for my YouTube about the new kite frame and doing some KAV with a GoPro for the video. I finished the video and was flying pretty low just for fun (no cameras on the line). Then all of the sudden SNAP! The kite folded in half and floated down to the ground. One of the pieces from the center spreader splintered at the end where it connects to the internal ferrule. I had made a 3 piece spreader the exact dimensions as the stock spreader and used internal ferrules that fit the skyshark tubes. I secured the internal ferrules to the center piece using super glue. It looks like the internal ferrule slipped when the break happened or slipped and caused the other piece to splinter at the end. This also caused a tiny pinhole to be punched in the kite fabric.

What did I do wrong here? I’ve never had a problem with the fiberglass spreader in 100s of flights, but I had heard of others having problems with it breaking so I was hoping to upgrade the spars to be stronger and lighter. I’m guessing the problem is with the super glue being too rigid, maybe I should use a more forgiving glue like E6000? If so, I’ll need to update the spreaders on my giant rok as well because I did the same thing there.

Also, what can I use to repair the tiny hole that was ripped in the kite? I’ve used sail repair tape in the past, is this the best option?

Comments

  • I use SkyShark tubes on my kites and have never had a problem. I definitely wouldn't recommend super glue to hold the ferrules in place, though; it's very brittle and not very strong. I use epoxy. Also, how did you cut the tubes? I wonder if there could have already been a small splinter from cutting. I use a Dremel with a diamond cutting wheel.

  • edited May 19

    I’ve never had a problem with the SkyShark tubes either. Seems like the ferrule just slipped on this one for whatever reason. I used a hacksaw blade to cut the tubes and wrapped the ends with electrical tape while sawing to help prevent splintering.

  • My ITW Alpine Delta Conyne was supplied with a 2-part fibreglass main spar joined with a metal ferrule. The hollow spar is reinforced with solid carbon inserts, about 10cm long at the ends where they join. After the first flight I found that these inserts had become loose and were sliding inside the tube. Not convinced about the integrity of the structure, I removed these inserts and made a permanent join using a 20cm length of roll-wrapped carbon tube as seen here.

    Tips: Only join carbon or fibreglass with epoxy (not superglue), after removing the gel coat or waxy release (inside & outside) with steel wool. Use roll-wrapped, rather than pultruded carbon tube which splinters lengthwise. Cut carbon tube by first covering with adhesive tape to prevent splintering and cut through this slowly with a thin abrasive wheel on a Dremel-type tool, rather than a saw. Finally, to make epoxy cure with some residual flexibility, rather than rock hard, add more than 50% hardener to the resin.


  • Aeronaut, thanks for the info! Which tubes would you recommend in place of the P400 tubes? I see they make P400 Pro tubes which seem to be the regular P400 but wrapped and un-sanded.

    I also use P400 tubes on my custom 10.5’ rokkaku and I’m now wondering if I should replace those also because I’m pretty sure I used super glue on the ferrules of those as well. But it was so long ago I don’t even remember.

  • Not sure what P400 tubes are since I source material from the UK where everything is metric sized OD and ID. I would expect that a carbon fibre tube of lesser diameter, pultruded or roll-wrapped, would be OK as a substitute for fibreglass material, but I have no experience of your P400 specification. Better listen to someone else here!

  • SkyShark tubes are wrapped.
    https://skysharktubes.com/

  • Thank you. The P400 tube is a SkyShark tube: https://www.skysharktubes.com/p-series.html

  • For anyone interested, here is the video I filmed that day:

  • Evan, I had to do some kite repair myself some time back. There was a small tear in my 9ft Levitation Delta. Initially, I bought some sail repair tape in a roll but this was a nightmare to work with. Due to the adhesive being incredibly strong, I had a lot of trouble cutting through the tape. I could only manage extremely messy cuts at best. I then ordered some pre cut patches of repair tape and they were much easier to work with.

  • Dragonblade, I don't understand your difficult in cutting the repair tape. I've used it on several occasions and found no problem whatsoever in cutting it with a pair of reasonably-sharp scissors. Of course, if you're using a butter knife or something, then I can see that might be a problem. I'd be interested to know if others have had the same difficulty.

  • edited June 25

    NZflier, I was using a pair of scissors and the tape was sticking to the blades. With every subsequent cut, the blades were getting stickier and stickier from the tape, making it even harder to cut. Getting a clean cut became impossible. Actually, getting any kind of cut at all became just about impossible. I'm glad that the pre cut patches are an option. I'm make sure to use those again in the future if the need arises.

  • Do not remove the backing from the tape until AFTER cutting.
    Cut to length with knife or scissors. Further, you can use a finger nail clipper to radius each corner,
    which will reduce the chance of the corners lifting.

  • Hmmm...I don't recall any backing on the roll of the tape I had. Though it's been a while since I used it.

  • If it didn't have the paper backing, which peels off to expose the adhesive, chances are
    it was not the proper tape. Every roll of " sail repair tape I've used, from different vendors,
    always has the backing.

  • The roll of tape that I purchased was described as "kite repair tape water proof" and was intended to be used with ripstop material. And it looked pretty much like a photo of another kite repair tape roll that a forum member had posted here in the past.

    The tape patches I bought afterwards had paper backing and they were much easier to work with.

  • When cutting "sticky" tape, wet the blades of your scissors with white gas ( benzine ) or lighter fluit before cutting, and repeat it frequently.

  • Hello Peter-
    I am sure your suggestions make for a good lubricant when cutting sticky tape. I would be concerned about
    flammability, and the fact that Benzene is a known carcinogenic.

  • Hello Paul, I wrote White Gas or Lighter Fluid, not to use Benzene. What we in the Netherlands and other European countries call Benzine, in the UK is called Petrol, and in the US is called Gas. According to European laws Benzine ( Gas … ) can contain a maximum of 1% of Benzeen ( Benzene … ).

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